Benedict Cumberbatch Once Punched a Journalist (in the Arm) to Defend Keira Knightley

Benedict Cumberbatch (L), Keira Knightley

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updated 06/09/2014 AT 2:00 PM ET

originally published 06/09/2014 AT 5:50 PM ET

Don’t mess with Smaug/Sherlock/Khan’s buddies.

Speaking to ELLE, Keira Knightley mentioned that Benedict Cumberbatch once defended her honor – physically – when a film critic insulted the actress.

The incident dates back to 2009, when film critic Mark Kermode explained to the U.K. Metro that “an actor very gently punched me on air for saying something about Keira Knightley.”

Knightley, 29, confirmed to ELLE that Cumberbatch, 37, was indeed that actor: “When I saw him [Cumberbatch] again, I said, ‘Did you punch a journalist?’ and he was like, ‘I f–––ing did.’ Everybody needs a friend like that.”

Kermode Tweeted an explanation and/or confirmation of the incident, clarifying that the incident was “in jest.”

And since we’re sure you’re interested in what exactly got Kermode punched, here it is, in Kermode’s own words. “I called her Ikea Knightley as her acting was so wooden.”

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